A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dave's Deep Thoughts - The "Double Diamond" & Leaning Forward in Faith

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.
So which is crazier......
to snow ski down an Olympic class double diamond slope,
or to snow ski without a shirt on?
It's known by locals as "the beer can."
It is the final lift that takes you to the very top of the mountain.
It's called the beer can because its shape
resembles an aluminum can.
To get to to the beer can,
you have to take the John Paul Tram,
a high speed gondola that wisks you 3,000 feet above the
base of the mountain resort.
When you step off the John Paul tram,
you breathe in the thin air found at 12,000 feet above sea level.....
and you see that there is one more lift to take...
the beer can.
The beer can takes you up the final 700 feet
to the top of the mountain line,
to the Grizzly Downhill.
As you ride the beer can to the crest,
you notice that the incline is significantly more severe......
so severe that trees have given up trying to root into the mountain.
When you get off the beer can,
signs tell you that you can see two other states
from where you are standing.
Then, there is the sign that tells you all you need to know
Double Diamond
In skier terminology,
a green circle trail means "easiest"
a blue square trail means "more difficult"
and a black single diamond trail means most difficult.
Double diamond?
You might as well post the sign from
the Wizard of Oz Haunted Forest....
"I'd turn back if I was you"
There should be a law firm
available at the top of the slope
to allow you to write your last will and testimony.
I'm sure after the spring melt,
carcasses of overconfident skiers are retrieved for burial.
And I'm very sure
that if a skier has never before met Jesus,
he does so, several times,
at the top of the Grizzly Downhill.
The Grizzly Downhill
is the trail used for the men's downhill competition
at the 2002 Olympics.
Olympic caliber skiers launch off the precipice at full throttle,
a 3,000 vertical drop,
to the surge of an adrenaline rush,
and to the cheer of adoring fans at the finish lne.
Good skiers stand perplexed as they strategize
how to navigate slowly down the cliff
so as to avoid the loss of limb and pride.
Average skiers surrender their medical cards to the attendant
so that vital information can be relayed ahead of time
to the local hospital's emergency room.
The Grizzly Downhill is so steep that trees have given up trying to grow sideways.
Squirrels have been seen with high altitude nose bleeds.
Vultures would hover over skiers who don't make it.....
but they can't fly that high.
There is a simple but difficult solution
to the Grizzly Downhill.
Lean forward.
You read that correctly........
lean forward.
A human being's first instinct
when on a steep incline,
is to lean back into the incline.
This is wonderful advice for roofers,
but lousy advice for skiers.
When a skier leans back,
he destroys all sense of balance on the skis.
It is only in leaning forward
that a skier can position himself to allow
his body weight to command the skis to turn.
Leaning back will inevitably
lead to a skier's demise.
Leaning forward
allows a skier to be in control
even when it feels like the last thing he should do.
I wouldn't recommend learning to lean forward on a double diamond.
I think I'd start on a green circle or a blue square.
But everyone has to start somewhere.
It takes practice,
It takes time,
but most of all,
it takes faith.....
Faith, that in this case,
takes prioirty over instincts.
It's the type of faith
that Jesus called for.
Don't believe me?
Listen to the Lord of creation command you to step out onto water.
Listen to the One who feeds your soul tell you to use your
small lunch to feed many.
Listen to the One who is the Truth tell you to share the gospel
to those who don't want to hear it.
It comes with practice
It comes as we trust
It comes so that we can safely navigate
the double diamonds of our life.
It is so much easier to listen to the world say,
"I'd turn back if I was you."
but we grow stronger in faith
as we learn to listen to the One who is the Way.
As for having skied down the Grizzly Downhill.
Yes, I have done so and have lived to tell about it.
As for the skiing shirtless.......
Guity as charged.
Sometimes faith is just plain crazy,
but what a ride........
"Truly I say to you,
Whoever says to this mountain,
'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does
not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted him."
Mark 11:23

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